Fresh groundwater flow important for coastal ecosystems

Fresh groundwater bubbling up at the coastline in Gunung Kidul, Java, Indonesia. The results highlight that abundant groundwater discharge like this spot is only found a small proportion of the world’s coastlines. Credit: Nils Moosdorf, ZMT Bremen

Groundwater is the largest source of freshwater, one of the world’s most precious natural resources and vital for crops and drinking water. It is found under our very feet in the cracks and pores in soil, sediments and rocks. Now an international research team led by the University of Göttingen has developed the first global computer model of groundwater flow into the world’s oceans. Their analysis shows that 20% of the world’s sensitive coastal ecosystems—such as estuaries, salt marshes and coral reefs—are at risk of pollutants transported by groundwater flow from the land to the sea. The research was published in Nature Communications.

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